Beltane is the Celtic May Day Festival – falling halfway between the Vernal Equinox and the Summer Solstice, Beltane marks the turn towards Summer and the “Merry Month of May.” This was a time when the veil thinned with the fairy world. It was a festival full of joyous rituals, from dancing around the maypole in the morning to the flower crowning of the May Queen in the evening to sleeping outdoors on beds of flowers and waking to wash in the morning dew. The day was spent with games and dances symbolizing summer’s defeat of winter. Many “tied the knot” with a hand-fasting promise.
Not surprisingly, all this merry-making was frowned upon as Puritan beliefs took hold. In the 1600s Maypoles were outlawed. It is said that the infamous pilgrim, Miles Standish, personally went around breaking up May Festivals in the new world! Later the maypole dance was reinvented and embraced as a custom for church school children. In the Catholic tradition, Beltane gave way to the “Crowning of Mary” ritual on May 1st – where a procession of children placed a floral crown on the statue of Mary. Here are some fun and festive rituals to help you kickoff the merry month of May:
- Weave Flowers & Ribbons into Your Day: Dress for May Day in your most festival floral attire. Festoon your hair, front door, or garden with colorful ribbons and flowers.
- Find Your Festival: May is a month when festivals abound. While you might be lucky enough to find a Beltane or May Day celebration, you can get in the spirit with food, music, cultural, or renaissance festivals near you.
- Invite the Fairies to Play: Violets have a magical connection to the fairy realm – and they say the fairies will come out to play when violets are in bloom. These easy-growing plants with flower petals shaped like hearts will add a touch of magic to your garden or window sill.
- Share a May Basket: The tradition of hanging a May Basket full of flowers and treats on front door handles may trace back to ancient times. Bring this tradition back with a gift basket for a loved one or shut in to brighten their day.
- Make a Vow: Hold a simple handfasting ritual to commit to someone or something important to you. Twist a ribbon around your hand(s) and repeat your vows or intentions – then hang it in a prominent place to keep them top of mind.